Urban Land Conservancy celebrates the achievements of its partnerships that create and preserve nonprofit facilities and affordable housing for communities in metro Denver. ULC’s Monthly Partner Spotlight is awarded to partners who demonstrate the value of collaboration, furthering our mission to improve the lives of Denver area residents through our real estate investments and community assets.

Congratulations to our June 2015 Partner Spotlight of the Month:  Hope Center!

For over 50 years, Hope Center has been assisting special needs and at-risk children and adults through its educational and vocational programming.  The nonprofit agency provides a variety of early childhood education and childcare for ages 2 and ½ thru 8 years old for children with both learning challenges and those who are above average in their gifted program. Additionally, Hope Center offers job readiness and independent living skills to adults with developmental disabilities as early as age 16. The organization’s philosophy is to create a specialized plan to meet each individual’s needs as specifically as possible, while also treating each person with dignity and respect.

Hope Center provides its vocational training at Holly Square, in the adjacent old Safeway store they purchased in 1979. Holly has been part of ULC’s community asset portfolio since 2009. ULC acquired Holly Square after the former shopping center was destroyed by an arson attack. As part of an extensive community engagement process, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP) was created to facilitate neighborhood visioning for the site. Hope Center CEO, Gerie Grimes, is the chair of HARP, shares the same vision of community driven redevelopment and has played a huge role in mobilizing the area including facilitating major improvements for the Square.

Through a variety of partnerships created by HARP, Holly Square now hosts a range of community spaces. The Nancy P. Anschutz Center incorporates the Jack A. Vickers Boys & Girls Club, a community meeting room, and ample space for nonprofit service providers such as the Mi Casa Innovation Lab and Impact Empowerment Group, a gang prevention program. The block also contains the Pauline Robinson Library, the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center, and the Hope Center.

ULC’s success in real estate development depends on incredible community partners like Hope Center. Mrs. Grimes is a strong figure in northeast Denver, and through her leadership, she demonstrates time and time again how dedication to community results in positive change and new opportunities,” states Aaron Miripol, ULC President.

Recently, Hope Center has generously agreed to share a large portion of its space at Holly Square to house Roots Elementary School until their permanent facility is built. Roots is a public charter school with a focus on technology, opening in fall 2015 with 100 kindergarten and first-graders in its temporary quarters. With plans to build a new facility at Holly Square later this year, it was important for the school to be in the area for its first year. Now known as a “community campus,” Holly Square now add Roots Charter School to the list of wonderful community resources available in this passionate neighborhood.

Mrs. Grimes explains, “We are thrilled to partner with Roots in the opening of an elementary school, another step in bringing opportunity to northeast Park Hill, and building the “future for our children.” Education is the core of Hope Center’s work, and I am proud to see Holly Square transform to a campus like community.”

Providing specialized educational programming is a large part of the Hope Center’s work. Their educational component takes place in the Park Hill neighborhood, not far from Holly Square. The Hope Center recognizes a variety of challenges children can encounter during their formative years and provides education that promotes brain development and basic self-help skills. Ranging from gifted students, to those with diagnosable learning disabilities, the Hope Center’s mission is to match every child to programs and services specific to his or her needs and requirements. The Hope Center also has programs geared towards “at-risk” children who may develop future learning difficulties. Currently, 200 children are enrolled in Hope Center early childhood education programs.

Hope Center was recently featured in a story on the Denver Post for which community members and alumni were interviewed about the lasting impacts of the Hope Center Early Childhood Education. One alumnus has now gone on to become a teacher herself, stating, “Hope Center instilled me with a love for learning. It influenced how I learned and how I want to teach.” The long-lasting impacts of quality education cannot be over looked, and the Hope Center’s rich and long history is a testament to its remarkable work.

Here’s to another 50 years Hope Center!

Photos courtesy of Hope Center